The discovery of brain impairment in mice could open the door to better treatment options for those suffering from schizophrenia and major depression, according to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
After studying rodents that have a gene associated with mental illness, neuroscientist Alexander Johnson and his research team from Michigan State University discovered a link between a specific area of the prefrontal cortex, and learning and behavioral deficits.
The finding is a significant step forward in better understanding mental illness. Although there are currently antipsychotic medications that can treat symptoms like hallucinations in schizophrenics, there are really no effective treatments for other symptoms, such as lack of motivation or anhedonia, which is an inability to experience pleasure.
“This study may well suggest that if we start targeting these brain-behavior mechanisms in people with mental illness, it may help to alleviate some of the cognitive and motivational symptoms, which to date remain largely untreated with current drug therapies,” said Johnson, who also serves as assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University.